Quantum Teleportation Is Not Teleportation

Exactly right, Quantum Teleportation (QT) doesn’t teleport anything. The thing is people have been fooled into thinking that QT is actually teleportation when it is simply copying. Therefore, a less misleading term would be Quantum Copying. I’m sorry this blows all your hopes of seeing the future unfold now, before your eyes, but truth is truth and we all have to accept that.

First let’s make clear what teleportation is. It is the transporting of an object from point A to point B by breaking the object down to atoms, streaming those atoms through the intervening space and reconstructing the object at point B. This is the same teleportation that had been popularized by science fiction. Think of Star Trek.

Now that we’ve properly defined what it is, we can now look at why QT isn’t the same thing. You see QT utilizes quantum entanglement, a nifty little feature of quantum mechanics that is best described as a linking of properties of subatomic particles no matter how far away they are in relation to one another. Thus if I have an entangled pair whatever I do to one immediately affects the other and causes it to behave exactly the same way. So, if I were to change the spin of an electron here its entangled electron partner across the universe will change its spin to be the same. This is perhaps a great way to get a rover on Gliese 581b, but for a person we have a bit of a problem.

If you have two quantumly entangled people what happens to one will happen to the other. So, now we have to add extra steps to the procedure of the so-called teleportation. One will need to disentangle the pair the moment the duplicate is created, so that if one dies the other doesn’t also die. But now we have two of the same person. One would need to destroy the original, after disentangling them, to avoid any existential issues. Yet, that’s like making a xerox copy of your chore list and shredding the original chore list. The copy is not the original, never was and never will be. Both may possess the exact same information, but the lists would still be different lists. Of course we can just not destroy the original, but that is not really teleportation because it doesn’t fit the transportation aspect, the you remaining you throughout the whole process part. The copy of you would still not be the original you. They are still not the same. Or are they? Don’t we also have to at least entertain the idea that the two people are exact duplicates? Not really, because this in no way resolves this issue into real teleportation, because of that annoying lack of transit.

I think part of the problem is our hope to see the future, as presented in science fiction, become reality. Maybe it’s hope that the dystopian mess we live in today becomes the utopian ideal of tomorrow, and high technology like this is a sign of that hope. Maybe it’s a love of wonder. Whatever the reason is, that causes your hope of advanced technology in the world of today, you need to temper that hope – that wish of something better – with healthy skepticism. You need to also realize that advancements in technology usually aren’t instantaneous. It takes many small steps to reach any milestone, and a lot of perspiration to make each step.

Will we ever reach the teleportation milestone? Probably. Will it happen tomorrow? Probably not, but there is a non-zero, quantum probability that it might. Whether it takes years, decades or centuries we will get there. Generations alive today may never bear witness to such wonders. But, understand that each laborious step along the way is a wonder in itself, not to be diminished by our hope of bigger things. We are the platform of future hope and wonder. What we do today, however small it seems to you, is more important than the destination, because without the baby steps the destination can never be.